Calcutta: Nadaraja Thangaraja’s is a story of guts and gumption. A story of thriving in adversity.
The Sri Lankan golfer was a garment factory worker till a few years back. But he had always wanted to be a golfer. His house in Colombo is adjacent to the 10th green of the Colombo Golf Club.
And at a very early age he fell in love with the fairways.
“I used to watch people playing the game… And I fell for it. I always wanted to be a golfer, but did not have the resources. We were very poor and to support my family, I had to start working at the garment factory from a very early age,” the Sri Lankan Tamil said, at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, here on Thursday. He is in town for the McLeod Russel Tour Championship and had a three-over 75 on Day I.
“I worked in the factory for eight years and then I decided to pursue my dream, my dream to be a pro. Someone told me the easiest way would be if I become a caddy. I got a chance at the Waters Edge Golf Club and from thereon, my journey began. In 2007 at the age of 26, I became an amateur and in 2009 I got selected to represent the Sri Lankan national team. And in 2010. I represented my country in the Asian Games. It was a big moment for me,” the die-hard Kumar Sangakkara fan said.
The 32-year-old did not know that SSP Chowrasia, too, came from a humble background. “Is it? I like people who work hard to achieve their dreams. I get motivated hearing stories about their struggle. My journey so far has been memorable,” he said.
In the PGTI Order of Merit, Thangaraja is at the 11th spot. That’s quite a feat since 2013 is his first year as a pro.
Thangaraja, though, laments his second-place finish at the home course — the Colombo Golf Club. He missed a three-footer birdie and Angad Cheema, another rookie, won the Dialog Enterprise International. “I could not believe it. I missed a three-footer putt. My mom and two sisters were there at the course and I wanted to win the title for them. But fate willed otherwise…”
Thangaraja’s mental strength can be gauged from the fact that he won the very next event. He took home the PGTI Players Championship, which was held at the Noida Golf Course.
“It was my first pro title. I will never forget that in my life,” the man who loves to watch Rajinikanth and Surya films said.
Thangaraja, who idolises Tiger Woods, dreams of playing on the European Tour. “My life will come full circle if I achieve that.”